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Antique Japanese Bronze Okimono
Li Tieh Kuai and Esquire

Circa: early 20th century
H 8.5" (21.5cm.), W 4" (10cm.), D 4" (10cm.)

Condition : solid bronze, excellent

Solid bronze and quite heavy, this statue of the legendary Tekkai is full of magic and enchantment. A learned philosopher, Tekkai was an imposing figure, well built, tall and graceful. His brilliance and abilities were acknowledged by the great Lao-Tse, who instructed him on earth and also summoned him to heaven for lessons. To accomplish this Tekkai was endowed with the ability to exhale his soul that it might travel, leaving his body to be watched by his disciple. Once, called to his mother’s deathbed, he traveled there in this spirit form; the student wandered away from his duties, forgetting the body. After seven days the body decomposed and when Tekkai returned it has been burned into ash. Seeing the fresh corpse of a crippled beggar by the road, Tekkai entered that body and lived out his life in it, cheerfully limping along with the aid of a staff, upon which he is often see resting his foot. In this reduced condition, Tekkai remained generous and devout, continuing his life as a wandering philosopher, seen here with a boy who carries a gourd containing mystic nectars that send forth a rising cloud of vapor. The face of Tekkai is ingratiating and highly individuated, bearing a broad and partially toothless smile. He leans on his staff holding up in his left hand a bat, a supremely auspicious animal. The boy beside him strides forward exuberantly, smiling.



Tekkai Sennin
Private Collection
On his back Tekkai has strapped a rolled up mat, over which hangs a hat made of lotus leaf. The modeling of Tekkai’s body is realistic and defined, with ragged garment, lumpy joints and protruding ribs, but the face is a portrait of joy. The realistic modeling and attention to detail distinguishes this work, as do the definable qualities, such as the reminder of courage and equanimity in the face of circumstance, which ennobles the spirit.
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